"I'm not proud"



The Danville News

Robert John Andrews

July 9, 2020

“An Excess of Dumb”

Word Count:  748


Caution:  removing caulking from around the tub can get expensive.  It can when you rip off the tiles that were glued to a splash wall made of cardboard.  Solution?  Duct tape, lest shower leak and rot woodwork. I worried that my daily bubble bath might plummet into the kitchen. 


There’s no more duct tape.  Instead, there’s a completely remodeled bathroom, thanks to a skilled contractor.  He did his thing.  I followed up with my thing, which mostly involved painting.  I enjoy painting.  In my profession where you rarely accomplish anything (because you’re dealing with people), a freshly painted room is most satisfying.  Although, if it were only painting, all would have been fine.  But no.  Bruce ‘the boss’ Springsteen got it right when he sang:  “We've given each other some hard lessons lately; But we ain't learnin'; We're the same sad story, that's a fact; One step up and two steps back.”


The floor tile required underlayment.  Closet door could swing open but now would jam on the mat.  Time to remove the door off rusty hinges, cart it to the garage, pull out the jigsaw and cut an inch off the bottom.  Repaint it again.  Rehang the door.  When I tried to close the door, given extra paint, it began splintering the hinge frame.  Borrow wood chisels and scrape frame and door.  Two longer screws added too.   The towel rod toggle anchors resulted in three hours of audible exasperation.  I’ve learnt to appreciate drills and drywall anchors. 


Next came the main door.  We wanted matching doorknobs.  New doorknob required chisel work to fit the new rectangular faceplate.  Dang!  Too much carving.  The wayward chisel ripped off a section of the wallpaper-like plywood.  Door damaged.  Need new door.  Buy new door.  Paint new door.  Cart new door upstairs.  Fit door into doorway.  Why doesn’t door fit?  Standardized doors are fine when doorways are standardized.  Now I had to saw a half inch off the bottom and a quarter inch from door’s height.   I knew enough to cut the bottom and hinge side to avoid messing up the doorknob measurements.  I further knew enough to call for help from a friend who has a table saw.  Do it right.  One step up, two steps back.  He’s an ‘A to Z’ kind of guy.  He said I’m more ‘R to L.’  Yes, I had to repaint the door.  Not funny.  Okay, he thought it funny. 


I’ve learnt to respect my limits.  I do a fantastic funeral, but I don’t do plumbing, electrical, or table saws.  I’m smart enough to know how dumb I am.  Another example?  For thirty years I’ve been dragging 8,000’ of hose from the garage spigot to water our backyard patio flowers, then haul 8,000’ back, and, grumbling, wrap 8,000’ around the hanger.  Last month it occurred to me to attach a 25’ hose to the spigot.  I simply could attach that hose to another length of hose reeled up on a hose-mobile stored behind the garage.   It takes clumsy, stubborn, conservative me a while to catch on. 


It’s frightening how dumb I can be.  The battery in my Miata car key died during soccer practice one evening.  I pressed it repeatedly.  Nothing.  I panicked.  How was I going to get into my car? The head coach suggested I use the actual key.  Oh yeah, right…


Strength is knowing what you don’t know.  What I don’t know is plenty more than what I know. 


A long time ago at my first congregation, a one stop sign town along Lancaster County, I joined the volunteer fire company.  The Fire Chief assumed since I had attended college and was supposedly educated I should go to pumper school and learn how to operate the truck rather than work a hose.  After two days of trying to figure out pressure per inch per velocity per circumference, I gave up.  Flow Pressure Reach, gallons per minute, per size of hose.  What? 


I’m not proud.  I respect various kinds of smarts.  When I was earning my teacher’s certificate, I heard boys complaining they weren’t good at math.  But just ask them about their batting average.  A young girl thought she was stupid, yet she could memorize an entire musical script.


Let’s be grateful for smart people, those smart enough to combine information with wisdom, common sense with the gift of laughing at yourself.  A Roman Centurion walks into a bar, raises his hand, holds up two fingers, and says: “Five beers, please.”


Now that’s funny.


"I'm  not proud."

Thursday, July 9, 2020 

"An Excess of Dumb"

"His words still ring true."

Thursday, July 2, 2020 

"Past is Present"

"Restore what?"

Thursday, June 25, 2020 

"Dear Evangelicals"

"Dad did lead me around with a leash"

Thursday, June 18, 2020 

"Father's Day"

"Last, why red, white, and blue?"

Thursday, June 11, 2020 

"Flag Day"

"It's a platitude, but nonetheless true."

Thursday, June 4, 2020 

"Graduation Platitudes"

"No touch rule."

Thursday, May 28, 2020 

"We Aren't Closed"

"The heck with Hamlet."

Thursday, May 21, 2020 


"Worry, friends, of the 'collective rage'..."

Thursday, May 14, 2020 

"My Country"

"We claim the advantage of the broken heart."

Thursday, May 7, 2020 

"A Day of Mourning"

"The game isn't over yet."

Thursday, April 30, 2020 

"Counting Losses"

"Euclid teaches us still."

Thursday, April 23, 2020 

"Thank You Libraries"

"God forgive us if all we do is return to the way it was."

Thursday, April 16, 2020 

"A Moveable Feast"

"I was on a mission from God."

Thursday, April 9, 2020 

"Virus Road"

"Every day is judgment day."

Thursday, April 2, 2020 

"Mom Was Right"

"Hows your Roundelay these days?"

Thursday, March 26, 2020 

"It Takes Effort"

"What did Grandma counsel?"

Thursday, March 19, 2020 

"It Feels Different"

"Stabilize a broken America first, then progress."

Thursday, March 12, 2020 

"Second Choice"

"Poor, poor, pitiful me."

Thursday, February 6, 2020 


"Are there any guardrails left?"

Thursday, February 13, 2020 


"Sorry, it's inside us."

Thursday, February 20, 2020 


"Bad, Romans, bad!"

Thursday, February 27, 2020 

"Leap Day"

"We are our histories..."

Thursday, March 5, 2020 


"We provide for appeals."

Thursday, January 30, 2020 


"Everyday heroes."

Thursday, January 23, 2020 


"Money matters more."

Thursday, January 16, 2020 

"Nice Try, Marc Theissen"

"We want purveyors of the possible."

Thursday, January 9, 2020 

"The Political Calling"

"It never happened."

Thursday, December 26, 2019 

"The Vanishing"


"Designed for a purpose"

Thursday, January 2, 2020

"Why made?"

"Friendship is a bond of grace."

Thursday, December 19, 2019 

"King Jesus"

"The gaggle moved to the side."

Thursday, December 12, 2019 

"Walmart Zen"

"Provocateurs become healers."

Thursday, December 5, 2019 2019

"Political Signs"

"Cynics, hush!."

Thursday, 28 November 2019

"Thanksgiving Memories"

"If it's social media news, it's rot."

Thursday, 21 November 2019

"Fred Rogers"

"The smell of boy."

Thursday, 14 November 2019

"Young Blood"

"Good thing we have the purity of the Republicans."

Thursday, 7 November 2019

"A Friendly Feud"

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